Exotic Birds of the Galapagos Islands (Nazca Boobies)

If you could find the whitest birds of the Galapagos Islands near the shoreline, it has to be a Nazca Boobies.

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Formerly known as Masked (White) Boobies, this native sea bird has one of the most intriguing behaviors in the animal world.

Nazca Boobies belong to the Sulidae family (Order Pelicaniformes), and are part of the three gannet species of the Archipelago.

Nazca Boobies (Masked Boobies)

birds of the galapagos islands

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Size wise, it is also the largest of all three. Nesting occurs right on the ground, and their guano rings are easily observed.

This species of booby nests mainly along the edges of the shoreline, although nesting areas like Tower Island in Galapagos, may have them as far as 100 meters inland (some 300 feet).

Unlike blue-footed boobies, they have a fixed mating season with one peculiar situation: sibling murder. More about Blue Footed Boobies here

Siblicide is not uncommon in avian life. In fact, herons, cranes, and even egrets perform it.

The complete evolutionary set of advantages has not been completely deciphered, but there are definite clues that lead us to believe that these birds of the Galapagos Islands are taking the "insurance policy" concept to the limit.

It seems the reason for siblicide lies in the rigidity of their fixed mating season.

Producing an egg is hard to start with. more so if two are laid.

If they lay only one egg, and something happens to that single egg, there will be an uphill climb if you are to lay another one and rear it successfully.

Therefore, ethics forgotten, siblicide seems to be the key for survival and a clear evolutionary advantage.

This system works in a non-conflict environment, since the laying of the two eggs is about 4-5 days apart (thus, the hatching of the eggs is at different days).

Chicks will have different sizes where the older is larger by about 30%.

This makes a crucial difference at feeding time, since the larger chick has a clear advantage versus its smaller sibling.

Pushing the younger one out of the nest (siblicide) gets rid of the potential competition, but more so, it increases the survival ratio of the staying sibling by 50%.

Cruel or not, it doesn't matter...

Survival matters, and it is the only mechanism that allows species to have a chance to pass on their genes to a next generation.

Best nesting colonies for observing these birds of the Galapagos Islands (Nazca Boobies) are in the following locations:

  • Genovesa Island (Tower)
  • Hood Island (EspaƱola)
  • and Floreana Island
Best time of the year to observe them: "anytime of the year".

Recommended Reading

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)

Ecuador & Galapagos (Insight Guides)
With 250 photos and tons of great information, this is an essential addition to your pre-Ecuador and -Galapagos reading! There are better guides if you are only interested in the islands, but for a combination trip taking in Ecuador as well, it's hard to beat.

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands

Birds, Mammals, and Reptiles of the Galapagos Islands
Small enough to fit into your pocket, yet containing comprehensive information and pictures of all the species you will encounter in the islands, this book is a must-have for nature lovers. Let's face it, Galapagos is largely about the wildlife. This book will NOT disappoint, and you'll have a great memento of your time with the seals, penguins and tortoises!

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World
Definitely NOT a tourist's guide, but if you're like me, and find the history and geography of the islands irresistible, then this is a title you ought to invest in. Stunningly illustrated, and painstakingly researched, those of you who have been there will be enchanted again -- and those of you who have not will begin planning your trip!

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands

Moon Spotlight Galapagos Islands
If you're a seasoned Galapagos regular, then you will probably prefer something weightier. But for first-timers looking for simple, down-to-earth advice on where to go, what to see and the best shopping and eating on the islands, this is the book for you. Small, well-priced, and reliable!

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire

Galapagos: Islands Born of Fire
The 10th anniversary edition of this photographer's tour of the Galapagos Islands is a stunning book, worthy of anybody's coffee table. This is a perfect post-trip talking point -- a great way to remember what you've seen, and spread the word amongst your envious friends!


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If you have any questions about the Birds of the Galapagos Islands , or if you'd like to know more about our recommended Galapagos Island Tours to explore this Archipelago, You can Contact us here


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